Help Fight Famine calls for $150m in foreign aid against hunger ahead of Albanian government’s October budget
Australia is set to provide an urgent $150million package to “hunger hotspots” in the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, according to a coalition of leading aid organisations.
The “Help Fight Famine” alliance of 23 Australian development agencies is pressuring the Albanian government to increase foreign aid spending before Treasurer Jim Chalmers presents his new federal budget on October 25.
In a budget presentation document released on Monday, the alliance argues that the war in Ukraine, the pandemic and extreme weather events have created a “perfect storm” of hunger that is likely to kill more people than Covid-19.
The number of people facing acute hunger has almost tripled since 2019, from 135 million to 345 million, according to the submission document.
Some 50 million people are on the brink of starvation and every night 811 million people go to bed hungry, the figures reflecting an “ongoing global humanitarian catastrophe”.
Help Fight Famine spokesperson and Micah executive director Tim Costello said this was not “the same old story of world hunger” and the Australian government was facing a “crucial test”. .
“Covid-19 has doubled the number of people living with life-threatening hunger. Between climate change and soaring global food prices, the worst may yet be to come,” he said.
“Anthony Albanese faces his first humanitarian test as Prime Minister after he said international aid to developing countries was both the right thing to do and in Australia’s national interest.”
Help Fight Famine also calls on the Albanian government to invest in a long-term global food security strategy and to increase Australia’s development assistance in the Asia-Pacific region.
Mr Costello and other members of the alliance will launch their campaign in Canberra on Monday.
Development organizations hope Albania’s Labor government is more supportive of large-scale foreign aid spending than its coalition predecessors and willing to commit $150 million in emergency relief despite deep domestic debt and other economic problems.
Help Fight Famine says the funding would go towards measures such as food kits to be delivered by aid agencies with “strong networks of local partners on the ground”.
Caritas Australia – one of Help Fight Famine’s organizations – conducted a survey to bolster the group’s call for the aid programme.
According to the poll of 1011 people, 70% of Australians think the global community should do more to support the poor.
Almost all Australians are aware of the war in Ukraine, but only 56% are aware of the impact it is having on the food crisis in the Horn of Africa and 45% are aware of the conflict in Yemen.
Some 29 percent believe the government should do more to help tackle the food crisis in the Horn of Africa.
Caritas Australia chief executive Kirsty Robertson recently returned from Ethiopia where she said the “horrendous conditions” were among the worst she had seen in more than 20 years in the aid sector.
“There is no doubt – we must do more to avert the impending humanitarian crisis before more lives are lost,” she said.
Originally published as ‘Perfect storm’: Aid organizations urgently request $150m from Albanian government